By Vic Gerami
Director Flavio Alves’s film, ‘The Garden Left Behind’ will screen at Outfest, Los Angeles LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, on Monday, July 22nd, 9:30PM, at Margo Albert Theater, Plaza de la Raza, 3540 North Mission Road, Los Angeles, 90031.
The Garden Left Behind is the only SXSW winning trans film this year made by fifty trans actors and filmmakers of color. The film has an astounding 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Imagine a life where undocumented people fear deportation on a daily basis. Now imagine that you are also a transgender Latina woman. This is the plight of Tina, a 30 year-old who is transitioning, and her grandmother, Eliana, who strive to make a life for themselves as undocumented immigrants in New York City.
Left alone to raise her grandchild, Eliana yearns to return to Mexico, while Tina struggles for acceptance as a transgender woman in America. Working as a gypsy cab driver to save money for her transition, Tina battles the constant anxiety of being undocumented. After yet another brutal beating in the transgender community, she emerges as an outspoken advocate, a role that changes everything. Underlying this universal story of family, friends and community, is the theme of transphobia and the very real threat of violence toward trans women, especially trans women of color like Tina.
Tina (Carlie Guevara), a 30 year-old transgender woman and her grandmother, Eliana (Miriam Cruz), have been struggling to make a life for themselves in New York since emigrating from Mexico when Tina was only six years old. Eliana was left alone to raise her grandchild, both as undocumented immigrants, whose dreams of home are markedly different – Eliana longs to return to Mexico, while Tina desires acceptance in America. The ineffable bond formed between the two formidable women has made them not only each other’s stalwart support in a hostile world but a potential millstone as well.
Working as a gypsy cab driver, Tina battles her desire to make money for her transition with the constant anxiety of being undocumented. Despite her trepidation, she meets with Dr. Cleary (Ed Asner), a psychologist, whose attempts to guide her though the process dredge up Tina’s resistance and fear. As he wears her down, Dr. Cleary becomes Tina’s confidant and cheerleader.
Following the shocking and brutal beating of their friend, Rosie, Carol (Tamara Williams), Amanda (Ivana Black) and Brianna (Lea Nayeli) friends of Tina and members of the trans community, encourage Tina to join The Royal Washers, an advocacy group whose goal is to bring their community out of its shadowy place in society.
Tina’s concerns with her boyfriend’s commitment are somewhat relieved when Jason (Alex Kruz) finally feels comfortable enough to be seen in a restaurant with her after a year of dating. She is unaware of her secret admirer, Chris (Anthony Abdo), a reserved young man who works in the neighborhood bodega. Chris, who longs for a different life as much as Tina does, finds his options almost as limited and influenced by the rough-edged street boys with whom he plays baseball. The convergence of his secret love for Tina and the expectations of the street create a conflux of difficult emotions.
Pushed to the fore of The Royal Washers, Tina begins to blossom as she learns to advocate for trans issues. The confirmation of Tina’s transition becomes a double-edged sword as her goal nears: Jason begins to fade away and Eliana, trapped between what was and what may be, struggles to find a way to reconnect and locate her place in her granddaughter’s new lifestyle. Tina’s euphoria at fulfilling her dream is stopped short by the realities of the cost of hormone replacement therapy. She redoubles her effort, selling her car, bartending and buying a counterfeit green card on the black market.
On the night of The Royal Washer’s candlelight vigil for Rosie, Tina crosses paths with Chris, unknowingly sealing their fates. Meanwhile, Eliana finally comes to terms with Tina’s identify and realizes that her love for her is all that Tina needs.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR, FLAVIO ALVES
Flavio Alves was granted political asylum in the United States in 1998 and earned an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Columbia University. He worked as an assistant to then-New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) before studying film production at NYU, where he received the Technisphere Award for Outstanding Achievement. His debut feature film, The Garden Left Behind, an IFP Narrative Lab–selected project, premiered at SXSW, where it won the Audience Award. The Garden Left Behind has recently received the support from GLAAD and NALIP and is also the recipient of grants from numerous organizations, including NYSCA and Jerome Foundation.
Founded by UCLA students in 1982, Outfest is the world’s leading organization that promotes equality by creating, sharing and protecting LGBT stories on the screen. Outfest builds community by connecting diverse populations to discover, discuss and celebrate stories of LGBT lives. Over the past three decades, Outfest has showcased thousands of films from around the world, educated and mentored hundreds of emerging filmmakers, and protected more than 40,000 LGBT films and videos. Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
For more information about The Garden Left Behind and Outfest, including tickets, please visit Outfest.org